21st century practice

With every year that passes we are getting closer to a true 21st century practice. Although times may seem hard at the moment, there are plenty of relatively inexpensive items that you can add to your practice to help you move one step further to getting the practice of which you have always dreamed. 

There are also many products that, with a little bit of investment and confidence in your own abilities, can make dentistry fun again, as well as increasing your profits in the long run.

CAD/CAM
I have indeed been talking about CAD/CAM for the last eight years or so and have been banned from mentioning it in many practices, but now it is time to listen! There are many new systems coming onto the dental market.

On the one hand, you have CAD/CAM systems that just take digital impressions; these images are then sent by email to a central milling centre (set by the supplier of the unit). This enables you to get your crown and bridge work back more quickly and without having to take an impression. The downside to this is that you can only send your work to laboratories that have the ability to read images and have a CAD/CAM system from the same supplier. This means, of course, that you are tied into using one range of products from one supplier and have a reduced choice of laboratories.

The other CAD/CAM system is what I have been talking about for a while. This way you take the impression with the CAD/CAM system and then design and mill the item yourself. These systems have a range of materials from different suppliers that you can use, as well as providing you with the ability to send to your work to any laboratory in the world. This makes a lot of sense to me – in about eight minutes you can mill in-house whatever you a happy to do yourself and then send the rest to your laboratory of choice.

OPTs – the next generation
As you all know, dental cone beam CT is everywhere, and you have probably had invitations to refer for CTs.

Well, now there is another way. If you are looking to get a new OPT, even the bottom to mid range units are now upgradeable to small volume CT. Consider your future plans when making your choice; for example, even if you are not considering implantology work in the immediate future, you might in a few years – you never know. My advice would be always to take the upgrade option if you can get it, and my only warning is to make sure the field of view –the area that can be viewed in 3D  – is no less than 5cm by 5cm, because any less than this is of no practical use. Most systems do have a field of view larger than 5cm by 5cm but there are a couple that do not, so do check before you buy.

While you are looking at new OPTs, also have a look at speed of rotations; some OPTs now have a rotation of around nine seconds and if this is achieved at the same radiation dose of those that take longer to rotate, it reduces the dose to the patient. Do check true image quality, rather than demo images, as reduced dose can mean reduced quality.

I have been bowled over by one OPT that I came across recently (Vatech). This unit has the ability to self-correct badly positioned OPTs. That means that if you position the patient wrongly and take the image, the unit will search through the image layer that has been taken and plot the most focused layer at 40 points around the arch and give you a perfect OPT. This blew my mind – you would never get a poor OPT again.

Cameras
If you are currently running a dental practice without a camera, then you are really missing out. Cameras are the best way to generate income for your practice. If you merely talk with your patient, trying to persuade them that they need work and why, you will need to draw seemingly endless pictures. Instead, why not buy yourself a camera, take a picture and show it to them, print it out and add it to the treatment plan?

Sooner rather than later
In conclusion, these are just a few of the new items coming onto the market, and there are many more on the way. When should you jump onto the technology bandwagon? My answer is ‘soon’. There are already second-generation technology users out there who have benefited greatly from what they bought eight years ago and have now upgraded to the newest technology available.

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